Woooo…2 blogs in 2 days! Here’s my tailoring news since May.
First up: Work experience at Anderson and Sheppard.
Working on the principle of ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ I wrote to a couple of the Savile Row tailoring houses to see if they would offer a lowly first year student some work experience. Amazingly I had an immediate offer of a day with Anderson and Sheppard.
Anderson and Sheppard are tailors to the Prince of Wales, and make a softly-tailored style of suit. Don’t mistake soft for drapey – the suits still have plenty of structure, but everything’s relative, and their style doesn’t have quite the strong lines of some of their more military-inspired neighbours.
Having done a rekkie to the Anderson and Sheppard shop on Clifford Street a week or so before, I presented myself to the bespoke premises on Old Burlington Street on the appointed day.
(Are you keeping up? – to be classed as a Savile Row Bespoke Association tailor you don’t have to be based ON Savile Row, but you do have to be within a specified distance of the street.) I was immediately sent off to workrooms close to Carnaby Street to spend the day alongside 2 of A&S’s most experienced tailors and 2 apprentices.
They were a kindly bunch, very complimentary about my standard of sewing (although I notice I need to up my work-speed by a considerable amount!), and even willing to share their chocolate and strawberries. I found the day interesting – as much for listening to the news from T’Row as for the sewing.
Next: back to college, and making a start on the waistcoat which was the assignment for the spring/summer. We were given the pattern, so I didn’t have to draft one which saved a bit of time on this occasion. The assignment was a single-breasted waistcoat with no collar or lapel. We were advised to buy a plain cloth to work with as it would be less challenging, but ever the glutton for punishment I decided to use a pinstripe. This meant that I had to cut the left and right front pieces separately to ensure the stripe balanced, and constructing the pockets was a bit more of a challenge as I had to ensure the stripe aligned through the waistcoat and pocket welt.
I chose a purple lining fabric to compliment the purple pinstripe, and a navy blue twill for the waistcoat back.
Here are a few pictures of work in progress:
I like the detail of having the bottom buttonhole in lilac instead of navy, and I’m developing a signature quirk – my tutors inform me I will have to have an embroidered motif on all my garments now, as they all liked the little ladybird by the right pocket.
I finished my waistcoat with a week to go before the end of term. Apparently this has never been done before, and infact most people don’t complete the garment at all. (Smug? Moi?!) I’m now working on drafting my own pattern for a waistcoat and plan on making a couple more over the summer months so that the process sticks in my mind a bit more thoroughly.
As part of my college course we were given a masterclass on waistcoat construction at Henry Poole (Winston Churchill’s tailors). The masterclass was interesting, but the biggest treat was seeing the inside of the building. Just like at Anderson and Sheppard the area for bespoke clients is very old-school: all wood panelling and leather sofas.
I loved looking at the uniforms in their display cases. Check out the goldwork on this!
I passed my course, so I now have a Level One Diploma in Bespoke Tailoring and Garment Construction. Earlier in July my college informed me that they are putting me straight through to the Level 3 diploma course in September, skipping the year of studying for Level 2: I’ve been fast-tracked! They’ve never done that with anyone before, so its quite a vote of confidence. I hope I can keep up with the workload, but its pretty exciting. I’ll be getting some regular work placements on Savile Row, as well as moving on to learning the process for making tailored jackets and trousers Bespoke-style.
Any that brings us up-to-date. I have a month to catch my breath, then back to the studying in September (but you know me; I’m likely to fill my month off with lots of projects).